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Trying to start a space club at university, help?

  1. Feb 22, 2014 #1
    Trying to start a "space club" at university, help?

    I've really been wanting to get into things like model/amateur rocketry and astronomy for some time. My school doesn't have any clubs for that and there are no local organizations as far as I can tell, so I figured I'd just get things going on my own and start one.

    I've talked to a few people in engineering and physics at my school and gotten a fair amount of interest, around a dozen or so people say they'd like to join if I started one. However, I myself have little experience with either amateur rocketry or astronomy, and from what I've gained from talking to people it doesn't seem like anyone else who may join does either.

    So...really, I guess the question is, where do we start on all of this? How do I go about structuring such an organization? I've thought about making it a bit like the engineering clubs, that is we come up with projects to do, but the problem is that the engineering clubs are made of engineering students using their experience from their classes. Now, we're getting engineering and physics students as well, but the problem is that the core subject matter will be completely new to pretty much everyone.

    So, the big questions:

    1.) How should we go about learning the basics of these subjects in a way that is interesting enough to keep members coming back week after week? Basically, I want it to be a learning experience (with the knowledge level of the prospective members, it's going to have to be, at least at first) but at the same time not a physics or engineering lecture.

    2.) What projects can we do as beginners? And by this, I mean beginner-level projects that would be suitable for and interesting to university-level engineering and science majors, not balloon rockets for elementary schoolers.

    3.) How do I do all of this while keeping it accessible to students from outside of science and engineering? This is a really important goal for me. I know of a few music majors who, despite not having formal science backgrounds, are still pretty into popular science who have expressed interest, but I worry that getting too technical might scare them off.

    4.) Also, I understand that my school offers a few astrophysics electives in the physics program. I've been thinking about talking to the professor who teaches that. Might it be a good idea to ask him for pointers, maybe ask if he'd be willing to get involved?

    Leadership is scary :/
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2014 #2


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    Don't think that you must have to have the club charter in its final form before you announce this to the community - ask for input! I think #4 should be your first step, definitely. Have you had any classes from that professor yet?

    Does your school offer aerospace engineering classes? It's not a commonly offered subject, so I'm guessing not, but if it does the professor(s) who teaches them are also a resource.
  4. Feb 23, 2014 #3
    There used to be an aerospace engineering concentration for mechanical engineering majors, but it stopped being offered a few years ago due to lack of enrolling students. My understanding is that most of the AE professors are still here in the mechanical engineering department. I haven't taken any classes from the astrophysics professor as it requires physics prerequisites I haven't yet met, and the people I have asked are in my year (so they haven't either ) or non-physics majors. Some of us have had classes with him before, though.

    My concern isn't having the charter complete, really, it's keeping together an astronomy and rocketry club full of members (including myself) who, despite interest, by and large do not know the first thing about astronomy and rocketry :P
  5. Feb 23, 2014 #4


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    There could be a logical contradiction there. At university level, I would expect most people who are genuinely interested in a topic (i.e. are prepared to spend a significant amount of time and/or money on it) DO already know something about it.
  6. Feb 23, 2014 #5
    Well obviously many of them have had classes in things like physics and engineering and are very knowledgeable about those subjects. But not many of us have any particularly deep experience in actually using a telescope or assembling and launching rockets.
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